The media has a lot to say about boys and reading. I will speak to recent media coverage over the next month. However, having been a teacher of fourth and fifth grade boys and now a mother of a second grade boy, I am always looking for ways to engage boys in reading. So this month on Literacy Toolbox, I hope to focus on boys and reading.
Over the last several years media coverage has touched upon boys and reading. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), an assessment given to random students nationally every two years, fourth grade girls continue to outscore boys in reading; however, if you look at the data provided by The Nation’s Report Card, the difference is minimal. In fact, between 2005 and 2007, both genders’ average scores went up two points and between 2007 and 2009, both genders’ average scores remained the same. If the NAEP is supposed to be “a continuing and nationally representative measure of achievement in various subjects over time,” why are we as a nation freaking out over boys scores? Both genders are holding steady, with boys lagging only about six points behind girls consistently. Is that significant?
I have both a son and a daughter. I am an educator. I have expectations that both of my children will do well in school. As I stated in “How to Raise Boys Who Read: An Educator and Parent Responds,” I do believe there are biological differences between boys and girls. I see this every day in the way my husband and I relate to each other, my son and daughter relate to each other, and my son and I relate to each other. My husband and son are very logical thinkers; my daughter and I are much more emotional. I have to believe then, that these biological differences affect the way we learn and the way we see the world.
Statistics are all about interpretation. I interpret The Nation’s Report Card to show that, while fourth grade boys lag a little behind fourth grade girls in reading, the difference is not that significant and has not significantly changed in ten years. BOTH girls and boys are holding steady.
What are your thoughts on The Nation’s Report Card? Specifically when it comes to the difference between fourth grade boys and girls and reading?
Disclosure: I have only used one statistical piece of information here. However, I chose the one piece that most media representatives tend to use. In addition, I only looked at the reading differences between boys and girls in fourth grade. Eighth grade and twelfth grade scores may show a significant change.
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